by Jack Diablo
Freak-folk outfit, Vetiver, stopped by Cafe Eleven on March 23 to play a show with Larkin Grimm and John Houx. Fresh off of their appearance at the SXSW Music and Media Conference in Austin, TX, St. Augustine was one of only two stops the group made in Florida.
Baby-faced John Houx kicked off the evening with his brand new green acoustic guitar and bare feet playing Dylan-esque folk ditties. Hailing from Northern California via New York City, this old soul wowed the crowd with his timeless songs about everything from poison apples to the woes of living in this generation. Drawing poignant contrasts between the socially-conscious hippies of the 1960s and the fashionably unaware hipsters of today, Houx lamented that these days, “it’s cooler not to care.” Listening to him strum his guitar and tell the stories behind his music was the perfect start to what would be an amazing night of great music.
Next up was the striking and strangely beautiful Larkin Grimm. With a mouth that could swallow the moon and pipes fit for the opera, Grimm belted out haunting melodies like a folkier Feist. During her songs she lulled the audience, all seated on the concrete floor, into a dreamlike trance but filled the spaces between with her strange but humorous wit. She spoke of her mistrust of cats, her time training to be a Sufi in Switzerland, and her theories on a secret planet where orgasms come from. With a dulcimer in her lap she could have fit in just as easily at a Renaissance Fair as a Florida bar. On guitar she was joined by a violin and yet another dulcimer (played by the aforementioned Houx) to create an ethereal gospel that explored the primordial nature of music.
After sitting through the first two acts, the crowd rose to welcome Vetiver to the stage. Their jams flirted with the psychedelic as we all swayed in time. Although I wouldn’t have thought to compare frontman Andy Cabic’s songs to that of Devendra Banhart, the influence of the one-time collaborator was present. At one point, the band commented on how much more attentive an audience we were than the Orlando crowd. Whatever it was that permeated the air that night was contagious and palpable, creating an altogether intoxicating evening of mellow yet engaging entertainment.
Cafe Eleven is quickly becoming one of my favorite local venues to catch a live show. They offer an amazing list of $3 drafts on concert nights and serve really great food to boot. With great booking, their shows almost always sell out and are far enough in between to leave people hungry for the next one. Combine that with exceptional sound and lights, a clean smoke-free atmosphere, great people and you have all the makings of a successful venue that never ceases to please.
Vetiver, Larkin Grimm, and John Houx
by Jack Diablo